Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Reality of Hate Crime

I "came out" on December 14th 2001 and declared to the world that I was transgender. I took that action because in the dying days of a relationship my ex threatened to tell the world and I decided that I would be better able to handle it if I told people. I had expected to be targeted by bigots but it didn't happen - until last week that is and suddenly I am under a level of sustained hate attack that frankly is beyond belief.

The bigots - no let me give them their correct name the "terrorists" are a bunch of young boys all about 12 to 15 years old. For the past three years I have had occasional problems from these and other boys when they discovered there was a "tranny" living on the street and occasionally they threw small stones at the window to get my attention. Then slowly the size of the stones increased and the force they hit the windows changed. Where once they had hung around to wave and "look at the Tranny" now they hit an run.

Last week this escalated - suddenly windows were broken and there was a clear intent to break windows. Instead of calling out "tranny" it was "Fucking Tranny" - their actions had changed from anti social behaviour to a hate crime. In addition the number of kids involved increased from half a dozen to about 20 in a series of hit and run attacks on my house. So instead of talking about hate crime I for the first time experienced being a victim of it and the stress of being under siege and feeling powerless to prevent it.

Interestingly I am actively involved with the hate crime teams in Hull and Humberside police in helping to encourage people to report incidents yet had never reported the issue I had. Big mistake. Had I reported this over the past few years it is probable that the kids initially involved would have been identified and because I don't think they had any "hate" intent, would probably have been scared off. Instead I effectively allowed them to tell the real troublemakers, the urban terrorists who travel around the city like a pack of wild dogs looking for trouble and playing a game of "catch me of you can" with the police.

Hate Crime is all about intolerance and seems to me to be grounded in ignorance. A high level of bullying at school is similarly motivated - it is people who are different who are targeted yet schools are not just reluctant but almost fearful of addressing most of the issues in the education curriculum. In Hull we have been trying for a while now to get schools include sexual orientation and gender in their education programme but they refuse claiming that parents don't want it - a vicious circle maintaining the bigotry.

Despite how I feel about being attacked, there is a very positive outcome to all this. In trying to find a solution to my problem I am working with the the neighbourhood policing team, Humberside and Hull City Council hate crime team, the anti social behaviour team, the wardens, my local councillor and other members of the local community. It is likely that as well as specific solutions related to my issue, a number of wider initiatives will happen because I am very actively involved. My experience in hate crime is being significantly increased which will benefit all hate crime initiatives throughout the city.

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